Italy 24 Ireland 7
With both sides looking for their first win of the 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations, today’s game was going to be competitive.
Having won 19 out of 22 previous games against Italy, Ireland should have been favourites going in, but if Italy were the underdogs pregame, they shed that skin almost immediately with a kick putting them in Ireland’s 22 within the first minute.
The game remained scoreless until the 28th minute with Italy captain Sofia Stefan making it over the line with an assistant from 12 Beatrice Rigoni, and no 10 Veronica Madia converting it, on her 50th cap.
Ireland were unable to convert possession to points, despite Italy five penalties in the first twenty minutes, gifting them opportunities.
A break from an unsupported Aoife Dalton in the 38th minute gave Ireland an opportunity to get into the Italian’s 22, and to get a score before half time. Despite working through the phases, a knock on from Grace Moore concluded the half, with Ireland having had to work hard with no results. They went in 7-0 at half time.
Italy’s strength and speed were rewarded in the opening of the second half, with a try from Italy number 11 Alyssa D’inca within two minutes. The try was effortlessly converted by no 13 bringing the score to 14-0.
Ireland worked hard in the second half, but with little to show for it. Despite having a majority possession and territory, Ireland were unable to capitalise.
Aoife Dalton successfully turned over the Italian scrum in the 55th minute, giving Ireland some much-needed momentum, however, Ireland’s attack was repeatedly met with a strong Italian defence.
Lineouts continued to cause issues for Ireland into the second half, and although they managed to hold on to possession better, Italy never looked in doubt.
After Ireland conceding a penalty for ruck infringement, Italy’s Michela Sillari successfully got the three points, just after the 60 minute mark, widening the scoresheet.
Hannah O’Connor made an immediate impact when she subbed on for Grace Moore, pushing on in the scrum, which led to Ireland getting their first points on the board at 65 minutes when a strong scrum led to a penalty try.
An impressive Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird break through got Ireland into Italy’s half, giving Ireland another penalty was again met with a formidable defence.
The Irish bench was gradually emptied, but it didn’t impact the Italians, who pushed ahead with a quick chip kick to enable player of the match Alyssa D’inca her second try of the game with three minutes to go, bringing the game to 24-7.
Though the teams were virtually equal in weight, the significance of Italy’s experience and caps overshadowed Ireland on a match they would have expected to win. Having beaten Italy 28-3 last year, questions are to be asked of what happened today.